One would expect royalty to be born in the kings’ palace, yet there was no room for the Savior, Messiah and Lord of the Jews. Neither was there a place for him among the nations, because at the very time that Jesus was born all Jews and all gentiles of the empire were hailing the Emperor of Rome by swearing an oath to Augustus Caesar (Luke 2:1-4), the anointed savior and god of the Roman world. There was no room for two saviors or two gods to rule mankind.
In Luke 2:10 the angel announce that Jesus’ birth was for all people. How should we understand the angel’s statement? At this point, all people probably refers to the Jewish nation only, and certainly this is how the shepherds understood the statement. Before Christ could be for all nations he had to be rejected by his own people (Matthew 15:24-28). In Luke 1:58 Elizabeth’s and Zechariah’s friends and relatives rejoiced over the birth of John. In contrast, the whole nation of the Jews had reason to rejoice over the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, but no one did, prefiguring how he would be received by the nation. During Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem the week before his crucifixion, many praised God for the coming of the Messiah. The Pharisees asked Jesus to rebuke his disciples, but Jesus told them, if they held their peace, the very stones would cry out (Luke 19:37-40). I believe something like this occurred at Jesus’ birth. No one rejoiced over Jesus, so heaven, itself, burst into our world to rejoice over the true Savior, God and Lord (Luke 2:13-14).
In Luke 2:11 the angel called Jesus Savior, Messiah (Christ) and Adonai (Hebrew for Greek kurios—G2962, meaning Lord). The shepherds would understand this statement to mean that their Lord (King) Messiah, a descendant of David’s, who would save them from their enemies, was born in Bethlehem. Is this Luke’s intended meaning also? Perhaps not—perhaps there lies a deeper meaning to be understood by those who study the Scriptures, like a rabbi or teacher.
In Luke 1:69 Zechariah referred to Jesus as the horn of salvation in the house of David. In Luke 1:71 he claimed Jesus was coming that we should be saved from our enemies and them that hate us. In Luke1:77 Jesus would give us saving knowledge (a gift) by forgiving our sins. Later, in Luke 2:30-32 Simeon would testify of Jesus that he is the Lord’s Salvation prepared (growing up) in the sight of all the people (the Jews). In Luke 3:6 we are told John the Baptist came in the Spirit of Elijah preaching that all mankind would see the salvation of God (cf. Isaiah 40:5). Finally, Lamentations 4:20 contains Luke’s words: “Messiah (Christ – G5547), the Lord” (G2962), which is the final place it is mentioned in the Old Testament. Before this it is mentioned only of Saul, Israel’s first king.
Jeremiah mentioned the title as the children of Israel were going into captivity, and he said:
“The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, ‘Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen’” (Lamentations 4:20 — emphasis mine).
Scholars interpret this as being either Josiah, who was killed by the Egyptians, or Zedekiah, the last king of Judah who was blinded and taken captive to Babylon. Yet, neither king fits the words of the prophet: “the breath of our nostrils” (our life) was taken captive—and—“under his shadow we shall live among the heathen.” Jeremiah was referring to the only Savior and LORD of Israel—God, himself. He saw God’s presence going with his people, and God’s people would be cared for and protected by him, while they live among the heathen. We have Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther to show us that this was true. Luke tells us that this same Savior, Messiah, the Lord (God) was born in flesh and grew up before the whole nation, and neither the Jews nor the gentiles had room for him in their society.
It is in this sense that Jesus told a would-be-follower that he (Jesus) had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58). Many have misunderstood Jesus’ statement to mean that he lived in abject poverty, but this is not so. Why would Roman soldiers be interested in the clothes of a man who lived in poverty (Matthew 27:35)? Why would the Jewish authorities fear the words of a homeless man—does anyone today? How much influence do the homeless have today?